Saturday, May 31, 2008

Up to our ears in beets and greens

My husband has the greenest of green thumbs. Our gardens really go gangbusters under his watchful eye. This is our third year of gardening at this house, and the frequent additions of home grown compost ash from our wood burning stove. Our early crops are in full swing and I have spent the past two weekends trying to come up with enough recipes to use up the bounty.

Oodles of Rainbow Chard and Spinach --
I have made two "Greek Greens and Sweet Onion Pie" in the past week. Last night I really caramelized the onions and it really added depth to the pie. We love this recipe! I ate leftovers last week for breakfast!

For a bbq last week I made a version of Swiss Chard with Chickpeas and Couscous. I used Israeli couscous -- which is bigger in size and has a great texture. I nixed the pine nuts and used cashews, and added a good heaping of garam masala (home made mix).

With some leftover spinach I made SPinach stuffed shells, using low-fat cottage cheese.

Two weeks ago when spinach was just coming in I made Chickpea and Spinach Curry. I added tofu to this mix and it was so yummy. It also makes a ton, so there were plenty of leftovers for lunches.

Also on my list today: Spinach Balls, Spinach Gnocchi

Lettuce -- pretty much just making salads and using on sandwiches

Beets -- I love them, and never know what to do with all of them.
In the oven right now is: Chocolate Beet Cake from Susan V at Fat-free Vegan Kitchen.

Marinating in the fridge are the beets for Roasted Beet and Three Radish Salad
Did I mention that we have three varieties of radishes?

I really need some recipes that freeze well. I am off to the field for 5 weeks (coming home on Sat. nights), and want to take yummy homemade food with me. I really hate eating at less-than-stellar restaurants -- not too mention where I am going is not known for its vegetarian friendliness. I won't feel like, or have time, for cooking at the field house, so whatever I can make on the weekends and eat on all week is the plan. If you have any suggestions, please drop them my way!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Carb-loading for a cause

We have been really busy with work and yard work, so cooking has been sporadic. This past week I have made a cheese pizza with a spare dough I had in the freezer; shrimp tacos (yum!); and this winner from the local paper (Daily News Journal):
Whole-Wheat Penne with Artichoke-Red Pepper Sauce.
I made half the recipe and it was enough for 5 generous servings (the original recipe serves 6). We had a salad and garlic bread to go with. This was Friday night's dinner -- lots of carbs because I ran in my first 5k on Saturday morning! Yea for me!

Whole-Wheat Penne with Artichoke-Red Pepper Sauce (modified from original recipe)

two 14-oz. cans quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 Tbsp. EVOO
4 tsps. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. whole-wheat penne or other small pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions. Reserve some of the cooking liquid (maybe 1/2-3/4 cups).

While pasta cooks, combine artichoke hearts, red peppers, EVOO, lemon juice, basil, S & P in a food processor. Puree until smooth.

When pasta is done, drain then return to pot. Add the artichoke sauce and the reserved liquid. Stir and warm over low heat. Serve immediately topped with Parmesan cheese.

Update on the St. Patty's Day Fare (see post below)
The cake was amazing and there was very little left to bring home (even though we were late to the party and everyone had already eaten). So, the extra Guinness didn't seem to matter too much.

The "Irish Casserole" was really good. Perfect hearty fare for a cold crisp Irish night. I will definitely make it again next year!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kiss me blarney stone!

I have been lax about posting lately because my camera seems to be in a funk! One day it decided to start producing pictures that look like this:

I think this was a picture (supposed to be a picture) of my back deck covered with snow. I have tried everything I can think of, short of taking the entire thing apart, to no avail. At this point is probably cheaper/easier to buy a new one (with better features) than to have it fixed. The sad, but true reality of the consumer world we live in. Oh well....

I have been cooking quite a bit over the past few weeks, well a lot compared to the past few months -- but was "blogging paralyzed" without my camera! No more I say. So, I might not be able to pose slightly out-of-focus-taken-in-bad-kitchen-lighting of my gastronomical creations, but I can post my recipes and reviews.

This weekend we have been invited to a St. Patty's Day party, and I have decided to bring my favorite Chocolate Guinness Cake (follow the link for the recipe and a picture), and "Irish Casserole" (uninspired recipe title not mine!). Both are vegetarian and of course, yummy!

I am hoping the cake turns out okay. I was on the phone with my sister when I started the recipe and misread 1 cup of Guinness as 1 Guinness, so in went an 11.6 oz bottle, not an 8 oz. cup! I couldn't figure out why it was so liquid-y, and didn't realize my mistake until after it was in the oven! Whoops!

Here is the recipe for "Irish Casserole." This is my first time making it, and since it is in the queue for the oven, I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds delicious! My changes to the recipe are in (parentheses).

Irish Casserole (posted on the Cooking Light bulletin board)

1 med. head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
3 baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 2 red)
3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used 1 green)
1 onion, finely chopped
Butter (I used a combo of olive oil and some butter)
Salt and pepper (I used freshly ground pepper and a roasted garlic/salt blend)
1 cup heavy cream (I used half-n-half)
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs (I will use panko when I get to this step)
1/2 cup finely grated Swiss Cheese (grating it myself)

Arrange 1/3 of cabbage, apples and potatoes and onions in layers in large ovenproof casserole.
Dot heavily with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I used a mix of olive oil and just a few thin slabs of butter)
Repeat two more layers. (My third layer was a bit thin since I was up to the top of the pan)

Pour in heavy cream.

Cover casserole and bake at 350 for 45 min. or until just tender. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese and return to oven uncovered until top browned with nice crust.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pantry Love

One of the tasks on my holiday "honey-do" list was cleaning out the pantry. Over the past year or so John and I would find items on sale at the grocery, bring them home, and shove them into the pantry. Sometimes haphazardly, with the general end-result of not knowing what we had or didn't have. The items below are just some of the condiments that came from ONE SHELF! Notice the bbq sauces? Yep, 19 bottles, not including the CASE stashed away on the floor of the pantry!

I naively thought I could fit everything on the available counter tops/stove/table top in the kitchen....John had to bring in reinforcements from the garage...items spilled into the hall and into my adjoining office!

Yes, all that stuff came out of our pantry! Needless to say, we are only buying "fresh" foods at this point (fruits, veggies, cheese, soy milk). I must admit it is hard to pass up a good buy one/get one sale on Kashi Cereal, but as you can see in the foreground, we don't really need it! Thankfully, over 95% of the items are still "good" so there was little to throw out. I did empty the contents of home canned goodies that we made in maybe, oh 2001 or 2002! Yeah, probably for the best.

I am proud to say our pantry is much more organized, neat, and accessible. All of the dried beans stand tall in their glass jar homes and ready to be called into duty. Tea is all together in one location, and we now have a drawer to hold all the odds-and-ends, like open bags of chips, small single-serving containers of nutella (I know!), coffee filters. I LOVE IT!